For Impact


OGs Note: Sales Nuggets from Frank Sullivan

Fund Development, Commit to Sales | | Tom Suddes

These three nuggets come from Frank Sullivan, who was my first mentor and perhaps the best life insurance salesman in the world. A Trustee at Notre Dame and a very good friend, Frank wrote a book in 1970 called THE CRITICAL PATH TO SALES SUCCESS. I’m going to share some wonderful nuggets and gems from Frank’s book and his life.

Sales Nugget 1: Ask Everyone for $1 Million

“It’s easier to sell a $1 Million life insurance policy to a QUALIFIED PROSPECT than it is to sell a $10,000 policy to a relative with no money.”
– Frank Sullivan

One of the things I learned from Frank Sullivan very, very, very early in my development career was that it’s just as easy to sell $1 MILLION life insurance policy to a QUALIFIED PROSPECT … than it is to sell a $10,000 policy to a relative (with no money)!

That didn’t seem like much at the time. Over the years, it’s been HUGE!

There were a number of great tips and ideas Frank gave around this ‘lesson:’

  • Create a PROFILE of what your $1 Million prospect looks like.
  • You’ll never make a $1 Million ‘sale’ unless you ASK for $1 Million!!!
  • You must RATE all of your prospects so you can see who’s at the ‘top.’ (See our MASTER PROSPECT LIST.)

Some years later, while still at Notre Dame, a good friend and one of the most persevering (read ‘stubborn in a good way’) people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with was Tom Pilot. Tom took Frank’s “Million Dollar” philosophy to its highest level.

He simply ASKED (almost) EVERYONE for $1 MILLION. It’s amazing how many people said yes!!!

Sales Nugget 2: The 5 Steps on the ‘Critical Path to Sales Success’

Frank believed that there were five activities that every salesman must perform. In order of importance, they were:


Frank was a master at selling life insurance, which is certainly one of the most difficult
‘intangible product’ sales. (This is much like what we ‘sell’ … when we’re ‘selling’ a
cause … case … vision … impact … or solution.)

Although I have revised my ‘sales system’ many, many times over the years, I can still go back to Frank’s ‘five steps’ and tie much of what I’ve done back to those steps.

How are YOU doing in terms of establishing goals? Getting good names? Making the
approach? Making a presentation? And making the customer a client?

Sales Nugget 3: The Importance of Personal Goals

It may seem a little weird to talk about PERSONAL GOALS when you’re dealing with SALES or SALES GOALS. Frank Sullivan, however, was all about writing out ALL of his goals and plans … personal, financial, business, sales, etc.

Frank was literally the first person in my ‘business life’ (and, actually, one of the very few people) who talked about his personal life and his family and his own goals … as they related to his business and sales goals.

Frank ultimately came down with Alzheimer’s at the end of his life, but, by then, he had impacted so many people and left a huge legacy. These ideas of ‘personal goals’ and ‘family first’ was his GIFT to me. I am forever grateful.

Frank’s the one who first gave me the idea of ‘solo time’ with the kids. I turned it into BIRTHDAY BREAKFAST, where we actually went over their ‘favorite’ books, TV shows, friends, food, etc. … and then did their GOALS for the upcoming year. I tried to capture all of it in my journal/green book.

If you’ve never done ‘GOALS’ with a 3-year-old, you’ve really missed out!